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Alcohol – Friend or MoFo

In all honesty, alcohol is not anyone’s friend. But we all have a relationship with it in some way. We may have our own personal struggles with alcohol, or live with someone who does, most of us know someone who is addicted to alcohol or has sadly died from an alcohol-related illness.

We may use alcohol as a source of comfort, to alleviate boredom or loneliness, to fit in, to escape, to numb pain or trauma, you’d be surprised how many high-functioning alcoholics you may know.

Most people that know me well, know that I like a drink from time to time. So this blog is not about demonising alcohol, It’s more about exploring our relationship with alcohol and how it impacts those around us.

As much as I enjoy having a drink, my preference is not to. I’m happier, healthier, and a better version of myself when I don’t. I’m clearer, calmer, and more capable of coping with life’s challenges, I sleep better, have more energy and motivation, I feel more connected to those around me and nature, life is just easier and brighter.

I’ve spent many years working on improving my relationship with alcohol and this has meant setting some pretty strict boundaries. One example is, I don’t drink mon-thurs, it’s non-negotiable. Alcohol moderating is a constant work in progress, self-awareness and being radically honest about the role it plays in your life is key to changing how you engage with it.

I’m not perfect… none of us are, there are times when I overindulge, and my body cleverly tells me that it doesn’t like it, it’s a great reminder to drink less or not at all. So don’t beat yourself up if you do this, just reset and move on.

Every year I do Feb fast and dry July, normally extending out for longer on both. It’s during these times I see how people around me struggle with giving it up, they start with the best intentions but find it hard to maintain sobriety. For some, it’s an incredibly hard habit to break or change. It takes serious commitment and discipline, but it’s so worth it. You never regret giving up booze, just like you never regret exercising.

But you have to dig deep into your why, show up for yourself, your why becomes your anchor to changing the habit.

Drinking with friends is fun, it can relax us and feel good, in the moment, but more than often during the night or the next day, it doesn’t feel so great, especially if we overconsume (tequila shots anyone?🥴).

But ‘Hangxiety’ is not fun, we beat ourselves up for drinking too much, we feel shame for saying something we shouldn’t have or behaving out of character. It can last days and even up to a week, we can feel down and depressed, how many times have you said “I’m never drinking again”, we’ve all been there. But once the anxiety and hangover dissipates we forget how bad we felt and off we go again. Why? Because It’s addictive and accessible.

The dark side of alcohol is visible in those around us struggling with addiction, it consumes them, like an evil spirit. (ok so I’m literally demonising it, just a little 😉) After all, that’s where the word spirit comes from, it’s believed alcohol spirits conjure up dark forces from within. I’ve seen this play out many times.

I lived with an alcoholic for many years and this set me up to get seriously triggered by people hard core drinking around me, particularly in my home. It can make me feel unsafe. I would never know what state they would return home in, I lived in constant fear of the unknown.

Sadly, when this person drank they turned into another person, Jekyll & Hyde, it was frightening, sad, and destructive for everyone around them. They would lie, about silly things and big things, like going to work when in fact they were sitting in a bar drinking all day.

It was hereditary, unfortunately, they had an alcoholic parent, so the genes give you a predisposition to addiction, and then society gives you a green light. After all, It’s legal, affordable, accepted, validated and advertisers cleverly seduce you to desire it.

I became sober curious a few years ago when I was forced into sobriety through illness. I was suffering from chronic inflammation and had been poisoned by mould, which I wrote about in this blog here. I read the book sober curious during this time and it really sparked a need to dive deeper into alcohol and its impact on my life.

For years, I hadn’t liked the person I became when I drank too much, I felt out of control, and shame, I was disconnected from myself, functioning on auto-pilot.

As most of us know, alcohol creates inflammation so it was an absolute no-no. I spent 14 months without it in my life. And I loved it. I learned to socialise without it, I became so much more present in conversations with people, I wasn’t thinking about buying my next drink or what I was going to drink next. I was just in the moment connecting with people. I felt real, like I had come home to myself.

I did hibernate for most of it as I was sick and in recovery, but as I got stronger and healthier I was able to be social again. It’s not easy being around people drinking when you’re not, it takes time to adjust and find your groove. It impacted some of my relationships, creating distance and disconnection, which was sad.

When you’re around other people drinking, you notice things you wouldn’t have before, like the loudness as people drink more, losing their inhibitions and the good time chasing, wanting more and more.

Most women give up the booze for at least 9 months when they are pregnant and feeding, I’ve done this twice but it’s different when you’re preggers or when you’re sick, you’re doing it for the betterment of your baby or your health, it’s much easier than giving it up just because it’s not good for us, sometimes this is not compelling enough for abstinence.

And alcohol is a poison and a toxin, so really we should all be moderating how much we drink for our health and those around us. The problem is, alcohol is so supported and encouraged in our society, we’re often pressured into drinking more by those around us, because it’s part of the culture. It’s promoted everywhere we go, it’s almost impossible to get away from it. So we think it’s ok to over consume and binge on it, it doesn’t really come with a proper health warning, does it? Not like cigarettes do now.

I personally struggled with binge drinking, I would abstain mon-thurs then drink too much on a Friday or Saturday and feel like crap, it wasn’t sustainable and I knew I had to get on top of it. So I set more boundaries around how many drinks I would have to combat this, I found lower-alcohol drinks and drank less of them.

I switch it up with other drinks like kombucha and coconut water. I also drive to certain events to help keep me in check. A few other tips are, If I’m out out, I order vodka soda’s in the largest glass they have and only one shot as well as drinking water in between drinks. I’m really comfortable not drinking now, it’s my preference most of the time but at times, in the right situation, I like a drink or two, after all, it’s about balance and moderation.

I love a decent margarita or vodka, I really enjoy it, savour it, life’s not about refraining and restricting all the time (unless you’re addicted). Create your norms and then have exceptions. My norm is I choose not to drink alcohol most of the time but on exceptions, I do (mindfully).

Some questions to ask yourself about your relationship with alcohol:

  1. How often do I drink alcohol?

  2. How much alcohol do I typically consume when I drink?

  3. Do I feel like I need to drink in order to relax or have fun?

  4. Do I often drink alone?

  5. Do I frequently drink to the point of blacking out or not remembering what happened?

  6. Has my drinking caused any problems in my personal or professional life?

  7. Have friends or family members expressed concern about my drinking?

  8. Have I ever tried to cut back on my drinking and found it difficult or impossible to do so?

  9. Have I experienced any negative physical or mental health consequences as a result of my drinking?

  10. Do I feel like alcohol is negatively impacting my overall well-being and happiness?

For more support on alcohol addiction, I recommend connecting with From Here On for recovery coaching. I also recommend Hello Sunday Morning for advice on how to moderate or quit alcohol.

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